The United States Army is attempting to add 80,000 new soldiers to its ranks, but it's finding it hard to find recruits. This has led the military to reduce restrictions on who can join the military, including rules prohibiting people with a history of marijuana use.
The current policy of the United States military is to not allow people with a history of marijuana use into their ranks. But according to a story from USA Today, that is about to change. Now, the U.S. Army will allow people who admit to previously smoking marijuana as long as they vow never to do so again.
“The big thing we’re looking for is a pattern of misconduct where they’re going to have a problem with authority,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow. “Smoking marijuana in an isolated incident as a teenager is not a pattern of misconduct.”
There are two reasons behind the policy change. One is the increasing number of states that are legalizing marijuana, meaning prospective recruits were possibly being punished for taking part in a perfectly legal activity in their state. California, whose population comprises one-eighth of the total population of the United States, is set to legalize marijuana on January 1st. The Army would have a hard time recruiting in California with current policy.
But the other reason is simply because they need more recruits. The Army's taken several other measures to improve recruitment. For instance, they're offering $424 million worth of bonuses to recruits this year. In comparison, that number was only $284 million in 2016 and only $8.2 million in 2014. They're also accepting soldiers who score lower on Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a test to determine whether a person's competent enough for the armed services. In 2016, 0.6 percent of all recruits scored between 10-30 out of 100 on the test and were still allowed into the army. In 2017, that number's up to 1.9 percent.
So it's not so much that the Army's changing its attitude toward marijuana as much as it's about them loosening restrictions.